Does Godzilla still have that monster charm?

MONSTER MAYHEM: Godzilla’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody.
MONSTER MAYHEM: Godzilla’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody. Kimberley French

THE original Godzilla made his big screen debut 60 years ago, but does this rampaging behemoth still have star power?

While the Japanese have continued to make Godzilla films on a regular basis since 1954, US studios have only on occasion dipped their hands back into the pot.

The last attempt was the disastrous and rather cartoonish Roland Emmerich version in 1998.

Thankfully the 2014 version directed by Gareth Edwards pays homage to what has come before it while updating the premise for a modern audience.

The famous monster is pitted against two malevolent creatures that feed off nuclear energy and wreak havoc upon the human populace.

If the 1954 version was made in response to the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima then Edwards' take could be viewed as a response to the Fukishima disaster.

More importantly Edwards understands he is making a monster movie and plays with those tropes successfully.

This cross between Jaws and Jurassic Park takes its time to introduce the titular character and spends the opening hour of the film with the human characters.

Tortured nuclear engineer Joe Brody played by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston searches obsessively for what is happening at the Japanese nuclear power plant where he used to work. His son Ford, played as an adult by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, grows up to join the US Navy and serves as the human protagonist of the film trying to rejoin his family in San Francisco as disaster looms.

The rest of the cast - Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Elizabeth Olsen - serve the plot amicably and deliver the required exposition.

This is not to play down their contribution to the film but to simply address the fact the human characters play second fiddle to the star attraction.

Godzilla is beautifully rendered by Edwards and his team of digital artists and the detail is extraordinary.

Edwards deliberately gives the audience a true sense of scale as Godzilla does battle with his enemies tearing down cities and making humanity's military seem paltry in comparison.

This is old-fashioned monster mayhem is an enjoyable film to spend a couple of hours.


Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche.

Director: Gareth Edwards

Rating: M

Reviewer: Jim Alouat

Topics:  movies

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